Christians slaughtered in church

Details from the al-Qaeda attack on Christians as they were worshipping in a Baghdad church:

The worshipers heard the first shots and explosions about 20 minutes after the beginning of Sunday Mass at Our Lady of Salvation Church.

Heads turned, the sermon stopped abruptly and the Rev. Wassem Sabeeh quietly began ushering parishioners into a fortified room in the rear of the church.

“We realized these explosions were close,” said Bassam Sami, 21, one of the survivors of the attack on a Baghdad church carried out by heavily armed suicide bombers that left at least 58 people dead. “Father Wassem started pushing people inside the room.”

Once they penetrated the church building, the silent assailants began executing people. “They were well trained,” Sami said. “They didn’t say anything. It was like someone had cut out their tongues.”

The carnage that unfolded during the next few hours outraged many in a city that has seen more than its share of bloodshed. The siege suggested that al-Qaeda in Iraq, the weakened Sunni insurgent group that asserted responsibility for the attack, remains capable of carrying out mass-casualty operations.

The target, an Assyrian Christian church in the upscale Karrada neighborhood, was highly unusual. The extremist group has in the past year directed its dwindling resources toward crippling symbols of the Shiite-led Iraqi government.

An Iraqi official said Monday that investigators had found at the scene three Yemeni and two Egyptian passports thought to have belonged to the suicide bombers. If confirmed, the finding would be alarming to U.S. and Iraqi officials because they say al-Qaeda in Iraq has struggled to recruit foreign fighters in recent years.

In a statement posted on the Internet early Monday, the Islamic State of Iraq, a front group for al-Qaeda in Iraq, asserted responsibility for the attack.

via Survivors describe deadly attack on Baghdad church.

Some of the members were taken hostage, some of whom were killed as Iraqi forces stormed the church.

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • http://www.thirduse.com fws

    the christians in Iraq, by any measure, did much much better under Saddam Hussein.

    We should have left him alone as the power that was ordained by God to be there. We had no business meddling. And as a direct result , our brother christians are suffering.

  • http://www.thirduse.com fws

    the christians in Iraq, by any measure, did much much better under Saddam Hussein.

    We should have left him alone as the power that was ordained by God to be there. We had no business meddling. And as a direct result , our brother christians are suffering.

  • Dan Kempin

    Come now, Fws. Let us not sully these martyrs by making their murder it into a political football.

    How long, O Lord?

  • Dan Kempin

    Come now, Fws. Let us not sully these martyrs by making their murder it into a political football.

    How long, O Lord?

  • http://www.thirduse.com fws

    Dan @ 2

    I am saying as a Lutheran, that it was immoral to do a “regime change”. And people suffer when immoral things are done. There are unintended consequences when an immoral end justifies well intentioned means. The means, our military men and women had the best of intentions. Which were dishonored by pressing them into service for something that was unworthy of their blood.

    The democrats were fully complicit with the republicans in going to war in iraq. So my judgement is not a political or politicizing one as you suggest. agreed dear brother?

  • http://www.thirduse.com fws

    Dan @ 2

    I am saying as a Lutheran, that it was immoral to do a “regime change”. And people suffer when immoral things are done. There are unintended consequences when an immoral end justifies well intentioned means. The means, our military men and women had the best of intentions. Which were dishonored by pressing them into service for something that was unworthy of their blood.

    The democrats were fully complicit with the republicans in going to war in iraq. So my judgement is not a political or politicizing one as you suggest. agreed dear brother?

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba

    Let us pray that this helps Iraqi Muslims understand what Al Qaida is really all about……

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba

    Let us pray that this helps Iraqi Muslims understand what Al Qaida is really all about……

  • collie

    But fws, Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait, trying to usurp the power ordained by God in that country. I’m not really disagreeing with you, (in theory) but heads of state tussle for influence and power all the time, sometimes violently. And this all happens under God’s watch. Not that he sanctions the wars, just that for some reason he allows them.

    Was it wrong, in turn for Bush I to invade Iraq and Kuwait? I’m sure many will argue yes. Well then we have to re-examine every war we ever participated in where we invaded somewhere, wouldn’t we? Whether for defensive or offensive purposes.

    And I’m not trying to minimize these murders; on the contrary, it pricks my conscience and makes me realize how easy I have it in this country, and how easy it still is, relative to the rest of the world, to be a Christian here.

  • collie

    But fws, Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait, trying to usurp the power ordained by God in that country. I’m not really disagreeing with you, (in theory) but heads of state tussle for influence and power all the time, sometimes violently. And this all happens under God’s watch. Not that he sanctions the wars, just that for some reason he allows them.

    Was it wrong, in turn for Bush I to invade Iraq and Kuwait? I’m sure many will argue yes. Well then we have to re-examine every war we ever participated in where we invaded somewhere, wouldn’t we? Whether for defensive or offensive purposes.

    And I’m not trying to minimize these murders; on the contrary, it pricks my conscience and makes me realize how easy I have it in this country, and how easy it still is, relative to the rest of the world, to be a Christian here.

  • DonS

    We should pray for our dear brothers and sisters in Iraq, but also recognize that persecution is our lot in this world as Christians. We are fortunate in America to be spared this test at present.

    To turn this suffering into a political statement, and to blame it on the U.S., regardless of whether it is directed to one or both U.S. political parties, is plainly wrong. The decision to invade Iraq was based on intelligence which indicated that U.S. interests were threatened if the ongoing problems created by Saddam Hussein were not dealt with. Whether that intelligence was right or wrong, Hussein brought this problem onto his people by refusing to cooperate with UN investigators and to comply with the terms he agreed to after Gulf War I. Moreover, given the tens of thousands he murdered during his regime of terror, using the most horrific methods of torture, it is ludicrous to argue that the Christians were better off under his reign. That sounds like the kind of griping the Israelites did in the Sinai, wishing they could be back under the iron fist of Pharaoh.

  • DonS

    We should pray for our dear brothers and sisters in Iraq, but also recognize that persecution is our lot in this world as Christians. We are fortunate in America to be spared this test at present.

    To turn this suffering into a political statement, and to blame it on the U.S., regardless of whether it is directed to one or both U.S. political parties, is plainly wrong. The decision to invade Iraq was based on intelligence which indicated that U.S. interests were threatened if the ongoing problems created by Saddam Hussein were not dealt with. Whether that intelligence was right or wrong, Hussein brought this problem onto his people by refusing to cooperate with UN investigators and to comply with the terms he agreed to after Gulf War I. Moreover, given the tens of thousands he murdered during his regime of terror, using the most horrific methods of torture, it is ludicrous to argue that the Christians were better off under his reign. That sounds like the kind of griping the Israelites did in the Sinai, wishing they could be back under the iron fist of Pharaoh.

  • http://www.thirduse.com fws

    COLLIE @ 5

    Bush 1 did the right thing. 1) he new that if he broke it he would own it (ie the iraq government and 2) he only went so far as he needed to negate the iraqi agression in kuwait.

    There was nothing intrinsically sinful or wrong about aiding another country that has been attacked if the rulers of that country asked us for help.

    It would be very good however to be honest there and say it was about defending our strategic interests (money and oil) however and not say it was about defending freedom and democracy in kuwait. there is little freedom or democracy there.

  • http://www.thirduse.com fws

    COLLIE @ 5

    Bush 1 did the right thing. 1) he new that if he broke it he would own it (ie the iraq government and 2) he only went so far as he needed to negate the iraqi agression in kuwait.

    There was nothing intrinsically sinful or wrong about aiding another country that has been attacked if the rulers of that country asked us for help.

    It would be very good however to be honest there and say it was about defending our strategic interests (money and oil) however and not say it was about defending freedom and democracy in kuwait. there is little freedom or democracy there.

  • collie

    fws, re: honesty about strategic interests in Kuwait – I don’t disagree with you.

  • collie

    fws, re: honesty about strategic interests in Kuwait – I don’t disagree with you.

  • Dan Kempin

    Honestly, whatever points there are to be made, I don’t think this thread is the place to have the debate.

    These Christians were killed because they were Christians.

    Our Lord said this would happen. Those who murdered them thought they were doing a service to God. They were slaughtered like lambs, and precious are their deaths.

    Go have the political debate on another thread and leave this one for grief.

    How long, O Lord, how long?

  • Dan Kempin

    Honestly, whatever points there are to be made, I don’t think this thread is the place to have the debate.

    These Christians were killed because they were Christians.

    Our Lord said this would happen. Those who murdered them thought they were doing a service to God. They were slaughtered like lambs, and precious are their deaths.

    Go have the political debate on another thread and leave this one for grief.

    How long, O Lord, how long?

  • collie

    Dan, I apologize for getting into the political stuff. I did not mean to minimize the slaughter – The tragedy beyond this one is that Iraq is now missing 58 individual “lights” that could have spread the gospel among family and friends. It’s a huge loss for Christ in that gospel-starved country.

  • collie

    Dan, I apologize for getting into the political stuff. I did not mean to minimize the slaughter – The tragedy beyond this one is that Iraq is now missing 58 individual “lights” that could have spread the gospel among family and friends. It’s a huge loss for Christ in that gospel-starved country.

  • Porcell

    Dan Kempin makes an important point. This slaughter of Christians in Iraq was carried out by a group of savage Islamo-fascists.

    As to whether Pres. Bush ought to have gone to war against Iraq is a separate issue. FWS’s view that Pres. Bush’s decision to fight Iraq was “immoral” is rather debatable; using the slaughter of the Iraqi Christians to score political points is reprehensible, though typical of Leftist ideologues.

  • Porcell

    Dan Kempin makes an important point. This slaughter of Christians in Iraq was carried out by a group of savage Islamo-fascists.

    As to whether Pres. Bush ought to have gone to war against Iraq is a separate issue. FWS’s view that Pres. Bush’s decision to fight Iraq was “immoral” is rather debatable; using the slaughter of the Iraqi Christians to score political points is reprehensible, though typical of Leftist ideologues.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    J (@12), sorry if you didn’t read the article, but these Christians were murdered by Iraqi Muslim terrorists, not as part of the Iraq War.

    As for the “at-will invasions of every other country on the planet,” I did some research and, while the numbers are a bit fuzzy, the actual number of countries is probably less than your estimate by 190 or so.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    J (@12), sorry if you didn’t read the article, but these Christians were murdered by Iraqi Muslim terrorists, not as part of the Iraq War.

    As for the “at-will invasions of every other country on the planet,” I did some research and, while the numbers are a bit fuzzy, the actual number of countries is probably less than your estimate by 190 or so.

  • Daniel Gorman

    Is the blood of the Iraqi martyrs on the hands of the American people? On Oct. 8, 2002, Congressman Ron Paul gave a speech before congress detailing the reasons why an Iraqi war would be an unjust war. In an unjust war, the belligerent power is responsible for all the deaths that result, directly or indirectly, from its actions.

    On Nov. 5, 2002, the American people re-elected most of Congressman Ron Paul’s pro-war colleagues. It could be argued that, if the American people had rejected the congressmen who voted for the Iraq war, the Bush administration could not have overthrown an Iraqi government that was protecting Iraqi Christians.

  • Daniel Gorman

    Is the blood of the Iraqi martyrs on the hands of the American people? On Oct. 8, 2002, Congressman Ron Paul gave a speech before congress detailing the reasons why an Iraqi war would be an unjust war. In an unjust war, the belligerent power is responsible for all the deaths that result, directly or indirectly, from its actions.

    On Nov. 5, 2002, the American people re-elected most of Congressman Ron Paul’s pro-war colleagues. It could be argued that, if the American people had rejected the congressmen who voted for the Iraq war, the Bush administration could not have overthrown an Iraqi government that was protecting Iraqi Christians.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Daniel (@14) said, “It could be argued that, if the American people had rejected the congressmen who voted for the Iraq war, the Bush administration could not have overthrown an Iraqi government that was protecting Iraqi Christians.” Okay, but it could further be argued that if King George III had not pushed the colonies too far, there never would have been a war that gave birth to the nation that would eventually overthrow the Iraqi government under which there was less violence against Iraqi Christians.

    Alternatively, it could be argued that the blood of the Iraqi martyrs is on the hands of the Iraqi Muslims who murdered them.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Daniel (@14) said, “It could be argued that, if the American people had rejected the congressmen who voted for the Iraq war, the Bush administration could not have overthrown an Iraqi government that was protecting Iraqi Christians.” Okay, but it could further be argued that if King George III had not pushed the colonies too far, there never would have been a war that gave birth to the nation that would eventually overthrow the Iraqi government under which there was less violence against Iraqi Christians.

    Alternatively, it could be argued that the blood of the Iraqi martyrs is on the hands of the Iraqi Muslims who murdered them.

  • http://cathapol.blogspot.com CathApol

    How soon many seem to forget the WMD’s that Saddam used on his own people! While the Kurds are predominately Muslims, many are Christian there too (Armenian, Jacobite and Nestorian) – the poison gasses used by Saddam didn’t distinguish between Muslim and Christian Kurds. Then there was the matter of the Hussein regime violating, I believe 17, U.N. sanctions and the limited or sometimes non-existent cooperation with U.N. inspectors – ANY of these justified military action.

  • http://cathapol.blogspot.com CathApol

    How soon many seem to forget the WMD’s that Saddam used on his own people! While the Kurds are predominately Muslims, many are Christian there too (Armenian, Jacobite and Nestorian) – the poison gasses used by Saddam didn’t distinguish between Muslim and Christian Kurds. Then there was the matter of the Hussein regime violating, I believe 17, U.N. sanctions and the limited or sometimes non-existent cooperation with U.N. inspectors – ANY of these justified military action.


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